Canadian Olympic dressage rider Ashley Holzer, who became a United States citizen in February, 2016, will now be competing for that country following the FEI’s one-year “cooling off” period.
Holzer, 53, who began riding at age 13 at Sunnybrook Stables in Toronto, ON, competed for Canada in four Olympics ‒ 1988, where she was on the bronze medal team, and 2004, 2008 and 2012. In Pan American Games competition she won team gold in Havana, CUB, in 1991 and team silver in Santo Domingo, DOM, in 2003. She rode in the first World Equestrian Games in Stockholm in 1990, and also Jerez, ESP (2002) and Aachen, GER (2006). She attended the 1989 World Cup Finals in Gothenburg, SWE, and in Las Vegas in 2009. Her top horses included Imperioso, Gambol, Pop Art (‘Poppy’) and Breaking Dawn.
Holzer has lived in New York for the several decades with her American husband, Rusty, who runs Riverdale Equestrian Centre. Their two children, Emma and Harrison, are also American citizens. The couple also keep a winter residence in Wellington, FL.
Making this career-altering choice was not an easy one for Holzer. “It was a difficult decision, as I grew up in Canada and have been extremely proud to represent Canada for many years,” she told Horse Sport, “but I have lived in the States for almost 25 years and it is now truly my home. My husband and children are American and I became a citizen last year. The owners of the horses I presently ride really want them to represent the US, which I totally understand.”
When asked if the current turmoil at Equestrian Canada had any impact on her decision to swap flags on her saddle pad, she said, “The decision was a completely personal one and as much as I am saddened by the turmoil within EC, it was not the reason why I switched.”
This would seem like an appropriate year for Holzer to make the switch, being an “off” year for international competition, while qualifying is getting underway leading up to the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, NC, Sept. 10-23, 2018. Her current top mounts are the 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding Sir Caramello (“Chewy”), owned by PJ Rizvi, and Diane Fellows’ 10-year-old mare Havanna. Holzer also coaches a number of Canadian dressage riders, including Jill Irving, Jacquie Brooks, Chris von Martels and Brittany Fraser.